We recently celebrated a Nameday for a family member–great fun!
Namedays are very happy days for little ones. A nameday is the feast day of the saint for whom a person is named (assuming, of course, that when he was baptized he was given a Christian name). Until he is old enough to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, and chooses a saint to be his personal patron for life, the Nameday is the particular special saint’s day a child gets to celebrate each year. Because children can’t celebrate a patron saint’s feast during their younger years, I really recommend making the nameday a special occasion for them.
So there’s a great vintage book (© 1962) called, “My Nameday, Come for Dessert” by a Catholic mother that details many ways to celebrate children’s namedays in the Catholic family giving tons of good ideas. (It’s in absolutely ghastly plaintext format here, but it is free to scroll through!) That’s where I first heard of doing this years and years ago when I saw a copy of the book. It’s easy enough to find more information all over the internet about traditional nameday celebrations, so you don’t even need a book of course. Enjoy doing a little more digging on Catholic sites about different countries’ customs for these feasts if you’re curious!
Here are some quick celebration ideas and tips from our home:
- On his nameday, share with your child why you picked this particular name for him. Draw parallels between this saint’s life and our times, and the call to sanctity your child has also been created to fulfill.
- Put the saint’s holy card or statue up on the home altar for the whole day, of course!
- Find or compose a special prayer to this saint for this child to be used exclusively on this day, asking the saint’s intercession for the child’s holiness now and in the future
- Decorate somewhere in the house with the liturgical color for the saint, even if it’s just with a paper chain on the chandelier–white for virgins, red for martyrs, etc.
- We have always liked to burn a special nameday candle on namedays, á là the use of the Baptismal candle on Baptismal Days
- Make sure to have dessert, even if it’s not cake, that symbolizes the saint somehow, either in shape, decoration, or simply by putting his/her holy card on top. (St. Michael–sword, St. Lucy–eyes, etc.)
- And we like to give a small, simple, religious present on namedays. (Usually books, yes!)
With observation of Namedays (as well as our celebrations of Baptismal Anniversaries) we feel our family is even more connected with the Church’s calendar. Celebrations of personal saints’ days make our home life just a little bit more in tune with the eternal heavenly celebration that a feast day reflects. May your family’s joy deepen with your observation of namedays through the years!